Sunday, 10 August 2014

Reds Lose Out In ICC Final

After topping their group unbeaten in the International Champions Cup, Liverpool advanced to the final to take on fierce rivals Manchester United.

United made the better start of the two sides and could have been ahead inside seven minutes when Ashley Young's cross reached Javier Hernandez but the young striker's shot went across goal and was cleared successfully by Mamadou Sakho as the danger ended.

Liverpool had a good chance themselves three minutes later when Steven Gerrard sent a free-kick into the area which met the head of Jordan Henderson but went over the bar and failed to trouble David De Gea who was soon called into action in the 12th minute as Martin Kelly had a chance from the edge of the area but the Spanish stopper collected the ball easily.

However, Liverpool had an even better chance within a minute as a Glen Johnson found Raheem Sterling with a through pass and with the young attacker advancing on goal, he was brought down by Phil Jones which resulted in a penalty for Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard stepped up and slotted the spot kick past David De Gea to open the scoring in the 13th minute but the Reds could have doubled their lead in the 24th minute as a powerful shot from Phillipe Coutinho forced a good save from David De Gea.  Both sides threatened from free-kicks with Wayne Rooney hitting one against the Liverpool wall and Steven Gerrard forcing David De Gea to punch his chance clear.

Liverpool had two good chances early in the second half with Rickie Lambert testing David De Gea after connecting to a Steven Gerrard pass followed by Phillipe Coutinho finding Raheem Sterling who curling shot deflected wide of the target.

United responded with a good chance of their own as Javier Hernandez swept a cross to the far post which was met superbly by Wayne Rooney who fired past Simon Mignolet to level the score in the 55th minute. The equaliser proved to be a catalyst for a second strike as just two minutes later Luke Shaw found Juan Mata who fired past Simon Mignolet from outside the area to complete a stunning comeback.

United's joy was nearly a treble success when a long range pass looked to have hit the bar and cannoned back into play which saw Wayne Rooney tap past a helpless Simon Mignolet but the strike was chalked off as the ball had hit the stanchion behind the goal and not the crossbar.

However a third did come for United as substitute Jesse Lingard sealed the win with a superb shot that sailed past Simon Mignolet in the 88th minute and handed Liverpool only their second loss in pre-season ahead of the traditional Anfield return for the final game of schedule. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Liverpool Miami Bound After Dispatching Milan

After seeing Olympiakos defeat Manchester City in a penalty shootout, Liverpool knew they were guaranteed a place in Monday's final against rivals Manchester United as they took on AC Milan.

Liverpool had the better of the opening exchanges with the majority of the possession over the Italians and turned the dominance into an end product in the 17th minute when Joe Allen raced towards goal before hitting a shot that cannoned off the post and into the path of Raheem Sterling.

Sterling's effort drew a save from Abbiati but the rebound fell nicely for Allen who fired past the AC stopper into the net to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead. Jordan Henderson looked to test Abbiati from a dangerous looking free-kick but could only find the Milan wall while Sebastian Coates blocked a fine effort from Niang at the other end.

Liverpool were awarded a penalty just after the half-hour mark when Sterling drew a foul from Rami and up stepped Rickie Lambert to take the penalty but despite a powerful shot it failed to beat Abbiati who denied the Englishman with a fine save.

A vast array of changes for both sides included the highly-linked Mario Balotelli who looked to test Simon Mignolet from a dangerous free-kick but it proved to cause no trouble for the Belgian stopper and Liverpool's continuing lead allowed them to rest a few players for the upcoming final on the hour mark.

One of the changes saw the introduction of Conor Coady who looked for an early impact when he and Emre Can teed up Steven Gerrard for a trademark piledriver but sadly the effort failed to test the AC 'keeper and at the other end, Mignolet came out well to deny Balotelli from what seemed to be a likely goal.

Liverpool confirmed the win late on with Suso adding the second goal with just a couple of minutes remaining to ensure Liverpool would go into the final unbeaten and with two clean sheets from three games in the competition.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mignolet The Hero For Liverpool

After a narrow win over Olympiakos, Liverpool continued their campaign in the International Champions Cup with a tie against Premier League rivals Manchester City.

Both sides fielded mixed lineups in keeping with pre-season traditions but despite a number of stars missing out, the starting players still had a lot of experience as could be seen early on as Manchester City registered a trio of early chances.

Clichy looked to test Jones in the Liverpool goal in the third minute but saw his shot go wide of the target but Jones was tested well just three minutes later when Dzeko forced a good save from the Australian before Jovetic headed over from a corner.

Liverpool responded well as a stunning cross-field pass from Gerrard found Enrique, who squared the ball for Coutinho with the Brazilian sending a shot just wide of the target but Liverpool should have gone in the 15th minute when a cross from Henderson met the head of Lambert whose effort was straight at Caballero.

City carved out a chance when Navas raced down the wing and struck for goal but saw his effort saved well by Jones, Milner also came close for City when his shot deflected off Kelly before drifting wide but the ball was in the net in the 26th minute when Dzeko fired past Jones only to see his effort denied due to an offside decision.

Lambert looked to put Liverpool in front in the 37th minute when he teed a shot across goal but saw Caballero claim the ball easily ensuring that the sides went into the half-time interval level and a number of changes for both sides saw a mix of experience and youth com on to the field.

Hart was called into action early after replacing Caballero as he was forced to deny fellow substitute Robinson after the defender had raced into the area but just three minutes later, City went in front. Navas sent a dangerous cross into the area and a deflection of Gerrard left Jovetic with an easy tap in past Mignolet for a 1-0 lead.

Liverpool looked to bounce back instantly as Coutinho broke through the City defence and struck for goal but saw his shot saved well by Hart and from the resulting corner, Sturridge headed over the bar. However, Liverpool were level on the hour as a stunning effort from Henderson brought them level after he had benefited from the combination of Sturridge and Sterling.

City should have regained the lead just four minutes later as a Kolarov pass found the path of Zuculini who sent a powerful effort towards the goal only to see it cannon back off the crossbar but it was a prelude for Citys second goal as within minutes, they were in front with Navas the creator again as his cross caused chaos for the Liverpool defence which allowed Jovetic to capitalise and score past Mignolet for 2-1.

Coutinho looked to bring Liverpool level in the 70th minute but his effort went wide of the post, Liverpool came close in the 83rd minute as Sterling found Can with the midfielder's effort glancing just past the post via a deflection and from the resulting corner, Toure's header could only find Hart in the City goal.

One of Liverpool's biggest positives last season was their attacking threat and it was clear that despite the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, the threat lived on as a clever pass from Lucas found Sterling who finished past hard with a stunning curling effort to bring the sides level at 2-2.

A perk of the tournament is that each game has to have a winner so the prospect of a deciding penalty shootout was on the horizon but Liverpool thought they had sealed all three points in the second minute of injury time as Sterling fired past Hart only to have his joy dampened by an offside decision meaning penalties would decide the winner.

City started the shootout in the shape of Kolarov but his effort sailed high over the bar meaning Sturridge had the chance to put Liverpool ahead but surprisingly sent his effort over the same way as the previous spot-kick. Toure stepped up for City but despite a good effort saw his shot saved well by Mignolet with Can slotting past Hart to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.

Navas had the chance to level for City but only managed to draw a good save from Mignolet and with Henderson scoring, Liverpool led 2-0 and looked good for the two points and despite Iheanacho scoring for City, Lucas had the chance to seal the win and did so with a superb penalty for a 3-1 win.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sterling Effort From Liverpool

Liverpool continued their USA tour with their opening group game in the International Champions Cup against Olympiakos.

The Reds fielded a strong lineup that saw the return of England quartet Raheen Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson as well as a debut for new signing Lazar Markovic against an Olympiakos side who were laying their second group game after an opening 3-0 win against AC Milan.

Boosted by the return of most of their World Cup representatives. Liverpool came close to a superb start as Gerrard swept in a dangerous free-kick in the fourth minute only to see it blocked by the defence. The Liverpool captain's effort served as a warning of things to come soon after, Sturridge aimed for goal but his shot found the oncoming Sterling who slotted past Megyeri to open the scoring.

Gerrard came close to adding a second for Liverpool in the 22nd minute when he sent a thundering effort towards the goal but saw the end product go wide of the target but Liverpool continued to pressure and a well-worked combination between new signings Markovic and Can saw the former sweep a curling shot at goal that came achingly close to dipping under the bar.

Olympiakos had a good chance of their own just two minutes later as Saviola looked to test Jones in the Liverpool goal but saw his shot blocked by Enrique who put the ball behind for a corner and from the resulting set-piece, Diamantakos had a chance but saw his effort drift wide of the target.

An array of changes for both sides saw Robinson, Coutinho and Allen come on for Liverpool in place of Enrique, Can and Markovic but it was the Greek side that had the best start to the second half as Ghazaryan tested Jones with a poweful shot that beat the Australian but cannoned back off the crossbar.

Liverpool responded with a chance for Coutinho but his effort went over the crossbar and the Brazilian had another good chance with 13 minutes to go as he struck from long range with a powerful effort that narrowly went past the post.

Olympiakos should have been level in the 80th minute when a mazy run from Bouchalakis saw him scythe through the Liverpool defence and even swish past Jones but a stunning chase back from Coates prevented the Greeks from drawing level.

Liverpool held on for the win despite a late chance from Samaris that drew a fine save from Jones but the Reds could have ended the game with a two-goal victory as Ibe looked to pick out Lambert only for the England striker to his a shot just past the near post.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Roma Secure Late Victory

Liverpool's first game in their USA tour saw a friendly match at Boston's Fenway Park against AS Roma but sadly it was the Italians who went away with the win.

The last meeting between the sides at Fenway Park saw Roma win 2-1 in 2012 and but Liverpool's quest to prevent a repeat suffered an early blow as a heavy fall from Fabio Borini, saw the Italian striker go off injured with Emre Can coming on in his place after only 12 minutes.

Liverpool had the best chance to open the scoring when Coutinho aimed a dangerous free kick at goal which just crept past the far post but Roma responded and went even closer to breaking the deadlock with a chance from Totti that went the wrong side of the post.

Roma threatened again in the 33rd minute as a cross from former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole found Totti in the box but again the Italian's shot failed to test Jones in the Liverpool goal and Liverpool responded as Coutinho looked to test Skorpski in he Roma goal but failed to hit the target meaning the sides went into the interval still level.

Coutinho looked to be the main threat for Liverpool as hit for goal again in the 48th minute but the target seemed to escape his shot but strike partner, Lambert came close to scoring his first goal for the club with a powerful shot that was denied by a strong Roma clearance before he forced Skorupski into a superb save with a clever shot just before the hour mark.

An array of changes for both sides took place on the hour mark and it was one of Liverpool's in the form of Peterson that came close to an instant impact as the Swedish attacker sent a dangerous cross into the area which found Coutinho who sent a drive towards goal only to see it denied by the Roma defence.

Roma responded to the pressure well and looked to threaten with a free-kick in the 70th minute only for Paredes to sent the chance over the bar and with just two minutes remaining , Sanabria send a powerful shot at Jones but the Australian denied the chance with a low save.

The final seconds ticked down as the sides looked to be going into special deciding penalty shoot out but Roma had other ideas as from a dangerous corner, Borriello hit a shot towards goal that saw a deflection off Agger which went past Jones and opened the scoring and with the final whistle following, Roma held on for the win.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Ibe Sparks Deepdale Comeback

After the last-gasp defeat to Brondby on Wednesday night, Liverpool travelled to Preston looking to bounce back with a win and included two new signings in the form of Ricky Lambert and Emre Can as a youthful side took the field for the second time this week.

Preston started the better of the two sides with Joe Garner forcing a good save from Brad Jones after a curling shot from range after Lucas had lost possession to Neil Kilkenny in midfield. Liverpool responded as Borini swept into open space to collect a scything pass from Lambert before testing Jamie Jones in the Preston goal.

Preston looked the likelier of the sides to score first and came close with two good chances as Kilkenny hit a dangerous dipping shot that narrowly missed the target and Josh Brownhill came even closer when he hit an effort that forced a palmed stop from Jones. Liverpool made a precautionary change in the 20th minute as Can came off and was replaced by Jordon Ibe and Liverpool came so close to an opening goal when Martin Skrtel threatened with a headed effort that David Buchanan denied superbly. 

Both sides continued to push for the opening goal but it was the hosts shat made the breakthrough with half-time on the horizon as a swinging corner caused chaos for the Liverpool defence with the ball finding Brownhill at the back post who hit past Jones.

Liverpool made just two changes at the interval with Lambert and Kelly departing and Jack Robinson and Suso introduced for the second half and the latter looked to make an instant impact when he raced inside and aimed for goal only to see his effort go wide of the goal. Seven further changes were made by Rodgers on the hour mark and alike the earlier changes, an instant impact came close to bearing fruit as Ibe dashed down the left and swept a powerful effort towards goal but saw the chance narrowly miss the target.

Suso and Ibe seemed to be enjoying their advances down the wing and combined to bring Liverpool level as Ibe picked out Suso in a good position before the young Spaniard swept a stunning effort that swung into the top corner and delighted the travelling fans in the 74th minute. However, the sides were level for just four minutes as Ibe turned provider again by picking out Peterson who side-footed into the net and completed a rapid comeback.

Liverpool held on to secure their first win of pre-season with the major praise going to Jordon Ibe has set up all three Liverpool goals so far including two for Kristoffer Peterson who looks like a real prospect for the future.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Reds Suffer Last Gasp Defeat

After the excitement and also disappointment for players at the World Cup, Liverpool began their pre-season programme with a 2-1 defeat against a Brondby side who concluded their pre-season schedule with the victory.

Liverpool started well with Coutinho looking to find Borini only to have the chance spoiled by a crowded defence but Brondby also had a good chance as Durmisi curled a free-kick to the near post that was dealt with well by Jones.

Suso tested the Brondby defence with a strong left-footed chance that forced a fingertip save from Hradecky and Liverpool were forced into a change when Ilori went off injured and new academy signing Stewart came on for his debut.

However, Stewart did not have the best start as a bad clearance by Suso found its way to Norgaard who sent a superb shot that sailed past Jones and gave the Danish side the lead. A strong response from Liverpool was inevitable and after Borini's shot was blocked by Albrechtsen, Smith tested Hradecky with a powerful hit and the follow up from Coutinho was also denied by a fine save.

The visitors had two good chances just before the break as Lucas tested Hradecky with a low shot but alike the earlier chances the Brondby stopper was on fine form again as he also denied Borini's chance from the rebound.

Traditionally with friendlies, there are sweeping changes at half-time and Rodgers made 10 changes which led to an instant pay-off as just four minutes into the second half, Liverpool were level as a superb run from Ibe saw him race into the box and pick out Peterson who finished from close range.

Brondby could have regained the lead from a superbly hit free-kick from Kahlenberg but his effort drifted wide of the post. Liverpool responded with the biggest threat coming from Ibe as the young winger drifted inside and sashayed his way through the defence before aiming for goal but only finding Hradecky.

After coming close with his earlier effort, Durmisi tried his luck with another set-piece and saw his chance cannon against the crossbar after a superbly curled shot and it was clear that neither side were happy to settle for a draw. Ibe tested Hradecky and came so close to putting Liverpool in front before lightning struck twice from a Brondby set-piece as Hasani aimed for goal and saw the ball ping back off the crossbar.

Hasani's luck soon changed as he collected the ball and dribbled unchallenged through the Liverpool defence before he fired the ball into the roof of the net to secure a last-gasp win for Brondby who as a result end their pre-season with an unbeaten record.